Saturday, May 16, 2015

番外編: The Decagon House Murders

No quotes as an introduction? A post title that isn't a reference? Yes, this is one of those rare service announcements on the blog. Prior announcements included messages about me writing prefaces or having translated short stories, so this time...?

One of the most referenced novels on this blog has always been AYATSUJI Yukito's The Decagon House Murders ("Jukkakukan no Satsujin", 1987), a novel inspired by And Then There Were None, about a group of students with nicknames like "Ellery", "Carr" and "Agatha", who are targeted by a murderer during a stay on a small, deserted island with a strange ten-sided house. The Decagon House Murders showed that it was still possible to write good puzzle plot mysteries decades after the so-called "Golden Age" ended. In fact, the release of the book was like a traffic light turning to green, as many writers followed in Ayatsuji's footsteps, hailing in a renaissance of puzzle plot mystery novels in Japan (the shin honkaku, or "new orthodox" movement).

Publisher Locked Room International will be publishing the first English-language version of The Decagon House Murders this July and I had the pleasure of being the translator of the book. It's a book I always wished more people would read, but of course I had never dreamt I'd have the chance to translate it. But sometimes, the stars align at just the right time. It's one of the most influential mystery novels of the last thirty years in Japan and SHIMADA Soji wrote a special introduction for the English release, so this is a release no fan of detective fiction shouldn't miss. Which is something I say not as the translator of the book (okay, partly, I do), but as someone who has been a fan of the book since many years ago and who went all the way to Kyoto and joined the Kyoto University Mystery Club mostly because of how much I enjoyed The Decagon House Murders.

Publishers Weekly gave The Decagon House Murders an early positive starred review and selected it as one of their Best Summer Books 2015 line-up, which is certainly not a bad start! My own review of the book can be read here. It dates from a few years back and long-time readers might have noticed that it was around that time that I started to blog more consistently/often about Japanese detective fiction and that's no coincidence.

Anyway, The Decagon House Murders will be out in a bit in less than two months, so True Believers, keep an eye out for it.

21 comments :

  1. Well done. I've got the original in my pile of unread books. I should hurry up to get round to it. The only other Ayatsuji book I've read is the Black Cat House one, which I had mixed feelings about; but even from that, he's evidently a very competent narrator and plotter.

    I don't really believe this new orthodox narrative though. It seems to me that the puzzle story never really went away in Japan.

    Incidentally I see you've taken down at least one translation you had on the blog. Is this connected to future publishing plans?

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    1. I doubt puzzle stories really disappeared anywhere in the world, and there is undoubtedly an element of rewriting history for own purposes here, but it's also true that Ayatsuji's debut was followed by a very large number of new and young writers who all specialized in puzzle plot stories (who lasted in the industry), compared to the two decades before it (with perhaps just a couple of people like Ayukawa).

      About translations: Sorta... I also took down a lot of the non-public domain stories because recent activities might attract people who'd probably not appreciate seeing them.

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  2. didn't like it

    also, they should hurry up and translate Nikaido Reito instead

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    1. ah!

      I just thougt about something. Say Ho-Ling, since you are acquainred with Pugmire, can you convince him to plan the translation of Terror in Werewolf Castle?

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    2. hold it! I've got a better idea!

      since it's obvious we will never get the chance to read it in english anyway, would it be possible that you write a summary of the novel?
      I mean, with the solutions of the murders and all
      if you refuse because it would be too long though it's okay, I understand

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    3. Depending on how well The Decagon House Murders will do, we might see more Japanese mystery authors published in English, I hope.

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    4. Oops, I didn't see it was you who translated it, sorry

      When I said I didn"'t like it, it was only because I didn't understand how the hero deduced who the culprit was

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  3. I will be sure to get a copy when it comes out.

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  4. Insane amount of stories seem to get their inspiration from Then There Were None.

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    1. It is a great work on its own, and the basic setting does really work well for the genre, I think.

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  5. Didn't I predict this would happened, years ago, on aniway? Who was the skeptical one, huh? Who?

    Looking forward to the book!

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    1. Looking forward to seeing more of your predictions coming true!

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  6. 1) How can you afford all those book?! What's your job?! O_o

    2) With the immense culture you have after reading all those stories, have you ever considered writing a mystery novel yourself? I would read it ^^

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    1. 1) Pro-tip: used books are both cheap and in great shape in Japan. I'm not often in Japan, but I drag enough back with me to last me for years (literally).
      2) I have dabbled a bit in writing, but more as a pastime.

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  7. Thank you so much for your hard work in translating this! My only English exposure to Ayatsuji has been Another so I'm beyond excited to read this.

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    1. The book is (obviously) quite different from Another in atmosphere and tone (not as gorey), but I hope you'll like it!

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    2. I already know I'll love it more than Another considering I'm a huge fan of closed circle multiple-murder mysteries which the Yakata series seems to have in spades.

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  8. Hello Ho-Ling,
    congratulations and thanks for the translation!

    I wanted to ask, I have uploaded Edward Hoch and August Derleth books on Mega, are you interested?

    Do you have e-pub/pdf novels too? ^^

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    1. Thanks, but distribution of ebooks just isn't a topic that should come up here, I think.

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    2. ok, suit yourself

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